Hyperconnectivity of the Right Posterior Temporo-parietal Junction Predicts Social Difficulties in Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Chien H
  • Lin H
  • Lai M
 et al. 
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The posterior right temporo-parietal junction (pRTPJ) is a key brain region representing other's mental status. Despite reports of atypical activation at pRTPJ during mentalizing in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) of the pRTPJ remains under-investigated. We examined whether boys with ASD show altered resting-state iFC of the pRTPJ, and whether atypical iFC of the pRTPJ is associated with social deficits in ASD in a sample of 40 boys with high-functioning ASD (aged 9-17 years, mean age, 12.38 ± 2.17; mean IQ, 105.60 ± 16.06) and 42 typically developing (TD) boys (aged 9-17 years, mean age, 11.64 ± 2.71; mean IQ, 111.29 ± 13.45). Both groups received resting-state fMRI assessment after imaging data quality control for in-scanner head motion and spatial coverage. Seed-based approach was used to investigate iFC of the pRTPJ. TD and ASD boys demonstrated a resting-state pRTPJ iFC pattern comparable to the known spatial involvement of the default-mode network. Boys with ASD showed pRTPJ hyperconnectivity relative to TD boys in the right ventral occipito-temporal cortex. This atypically increased iFC in the ASD group was positively correlated with social deficits assessed by the Chinese version of the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and the Social Responsive Scale. Our findings provide empirical support for functional "dysconnectivity," that is, atypical functional integration among brain regions, as an integral component of the atypical neurobiology of ASD. Autism Res 2015. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Functional connectivity
  • Resting-state fMRI
  • Right posterior temporo-parietal junction
  • Ventral occipito-temporal cortex

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